Homemade sweet treats are always good, especially homemade torrone! This Italian Christmas candy with roasted nuts is sweet, chewy and delicious. Italian nut nougat is also simple to prepare. Famous soft torrone comes from Alba, Siena, Cremona, and Benevento, but you can make your own white nougat which is just as tasty with almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, or pecans.
Honey and citrus are key components of Christmas-style Italian nougat candy. Nuts are widely used and you can choose from almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, or pecans. Mixed nuts would be good too.
Italian nut nougat can be hard or soft and medium-sweet or very sweet. You can even find chocolate covered white nougat in Italy. Store-bought or homemade torrone is typically served after lunch or dinner around Christmastime. Many Italian families serve it with mandarin oranges or with dried dates or figs.
If there is any left over after the festivities, it can be chopped and used in cheesecake, semifreddo or sprinkled over ice cream.
What is Nougat Exactly?
Similar to meringue in terms of ingredients, not texture, nougat is served by itself or as part of candy bars and other desserts. It various from light and airy to chewy and stiff. It’s made with egg whites, honey (sometimes sugar instead of honey, or both) and fruit and/or nuts.
Nougat-making goes back hundreds of years in the Middle East and Europe. It might not be the easiest dessert to make but it’s not hard as long as you have the right ingredients and equipment. You will need wafer paper and a candy thermometer too.
Is Torrone Nut Nougat Gluten Free?
Yes, torrone is gluten free. That is one of the great things about the simplicity of this recipe.
Italian Christmas Candy with Roasted Nuts Ingredients
Honey and sugar make this homemade torrone beautifully sweet, while vanilla and lemon zest add gentle flavours. In addition you need wafer paper, egg whites, and salt.
Finally, you will need nuts, and can use almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, or pecans, or a combination.
What is Wafer Paper?
Also known as rice paper or nougat paper, this paper is starch-based and made with starch from rice or potatoes. It’s stiff and slightly see-through. This edible paper is safe to eat and doesn’t have much of a flavour so you can use it in dessert recipes. It doesn’t add any scent or flavour to your confections.
You’ve probably had wafer paper if you’ve had traditional macaroons. It’s sometimes used to decorate fancy cakes, perhaps shaped into pretty edible petals and assembled to look like a flower, for example.
You can get wafer paper from baking supply stores or order it online. As well as being used to decorate macaroons and cakes, it’s good to keep moisture out of homemade torrone and other candies. Use it to make wrappers for small candies.
How to Prepare Italian Nut Nougat
The first step in making white nougat is lining a baking dish with plastic wrap and then with some wafer paper. Beat the egg whites with salt until they form soft peaks.
Melt the sugar and honey in a pan on the stove and then add it gradually to the egg white mixture. The longer you boil the sugar mixture the firmer your Italian nougat candy will come out.
Add in the vanilla and lemon zest and keep mixing until the mixture thickens up. The, add in the nuts and then pour the mixture over the wafer paper in the baking dish. Add more wafer paper on top and press it down.
When the soft torrone is cool you can cut it into pieces, wrapping the pieces individually if you like.
How to Store Homemade Torrone
This Italian nougat candy keeps for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container somewhere dry and cool. Don’t refrigerate soft torrone because the moisture will make it ‘weep’ and negatively affect the flavour.
You can also freeze it for up to a month. Chop it up first so you only have to thaw as much as you need.
White Nougat Variations
Feel free to tweak the ingredients in this Italian Christmas candy with roasted nuts. You can sub orange or lime zest for the lemon zest. Also choose any kind of nuts you prefer. I find that almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, or pecans are good in Italian nougat candy.
Another variation would be swapping the vanilla extract for another flavour. Some kind of nut extract would be good and add to the nutty flavour. Or you could blend pink food colouring into half the nougat mixture or experiment with green and red food colourings for Christmas!
Find these cookies and others in my holiday cookie box
Homemade Torrone Italian Nut Nougat Recipe
Homemade Torrone Italian Nut Nougat
- 2 Sheets wafer paper cut to fit 8×8 pan
- 12 Ounces honey
- 1 2/3 Cup white sugar
- 3 egg whites at room temperature
- 1 Dash salt
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract clear for a whiter torrone
- 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
- 3 Cups nuts roasted almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, or pecans
- Prepare a 9” square baking dish (or similar size) by lining it with plastic wrap, ensuring the bottom and sides are fully covered. Cut both sheets of wafer paper to fit the size of your baking dish. Place one sheet of the wafer paper into the bottom of the dish, set the other piece aside for later.
- Take the room temperature egg whites and beat them with a dash of salt in a stand mixer until you achieve soft peaks. Keep them in the stand mixer for later.
- Take a medium to large sized heavy-bottomed pot, and add your honey and sugar in. Stir this mixture on medium heat until it has reached 300 degrees F.
- Once your sugar mixture has reached 300 degrees, remove from heat and immediately bring it over to the stand mixer. With the mixer on medium high stream in about 3 Tablespoons of the hot sugar mixture, let it fully combine with the egg whites and whip for a few moments before slowly streaming in the remaining sugar mixture.
- Add in the lemon zest and vanilla extract. Pay close attention to how thick the mixture is getting as it cools, continue to whip it until the sides of the bowl are cool enough to keep your hand on it for 10 seconds, when this happens add in the nuts and give it one good mix to combine then shut it off. However, if the mixture is getting too thick before the bowl is cool enough to keep your hand on it, add the nuts in and stop mixing at any point.
- Working quickly, pour the mixture into your prepared baking dish, on top of the wafer paper. Gently spread as evenly as possible. You can use a lightly greased spatula to spread the nougat if needed.
- Top the nougat with the second wafer paper sheet. Gently press everything down tightly and flat, trying to get as flat and level of a top as you can – you can use the bottom of a cup or ramekin to help smooth it out if needed.
- Let cool at room temperature.
- When ready, carefully turn the torrone out onto a cutting board. Remove the plastic wrap and use a long serrated knife to cut the torrone into desired sizes.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.
I really love homemade torrone around the festive season. It’s so good as an after-dinner treat and makes a change from cookies. If you are looking for other easy holiday treats, you might like these Chocolate Dipped Peppermint Meringue Kiss Christmas Cookies.